Doll News Summer 2020 - 24

Matching beading
on wedding gown.

This is the basic construction of Helen's dolls.

summer convention. Nonetheless, I had to act once
the adrenaline was pumping. I wrote to A. Glenn
Mandeville of the "Curious Collector" section of Dolls
magazine. Luckily, the pictures of the two dolls and
my inquiry were printed in the April 2017 issue. Mr.
Mandeville believed that these dolls may have come
from Jean Schramm's store, "The Enchanted Doll
House" and that the dolls could have been created for
the shop by local artists, as was customary. He believed
the dolls might have been made in the late 1940s or
1950s. This information certainly appeared to help,
but I could find no more of a connection between Jean
Schramm's popular Manchester Center store, which
was over two hours from Burlington. The store had
been closed for years. I attempted to find out more
but again my efforts proved fruitless. I did inquire
at the following conventions, especially at the cloth
doll meetings. I showed my pictures. No one that I
encountered appeared to know anything about these
dolls except for some people who had attended the
Region 15 Conference in Massachusetts, which had a
"Little Women" theme. They believed they had seen
a set of dolls that closely resembled mine. (I did not
24

SUMMER 2020

attend that Regional). Yet, that was all anyone knew.
In September 2018, my friends and I were lucky
enough to attend a Regional in Towson, Maryland.
(We are sill bragging and reminiscing about what a
wonderful time we had!) I was still on my quest. While
helping out in the competition room, I again inquired
about the cloth cuties. As luck would have it, I was
informed that Mary and Frank Swasey were in the
house, dropping off dolls to place in the competition
at that very moment. And guess where the Swaseys
reside? The rest is history!
Mary, a native of Burlington, Vermont, gave a
name to the doll artist: Helen Rollins (August 31,
1907-June 10, 1998). Not only had Mary been lucky
enough to have first met this talented lady when
she was a child, Mary had written an article "The
Little Women of New England: Dollmaker Helen
Rollins" for The Cloth Doll magazine in 2000. When
we returned to our respective homes after the
Regional, Mary was kind enough to send me a copy
of the article. In it, Mary informs us that Helen, who
was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, was inspired
by visiting Orchard House, in Concord, home of



Doll News Summer 2020

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